Japanese street festival moves to new location

WASHINGTON– One of the last big events of this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival is Saturday April 16, and it’s in a new location.

The Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, traditionally held on Pennsylvania Avenue downtown, now is being held  at Yards Park along the Anacostia River.

“It’s like a blank canvas, it’s a tremendous location, very expansive and huge,” said John Malott, the President of the Japan America Society of Washington. “We had to say, where are we going to put everything? But, we got it all figured out.”

Six stages of live entertainment and programming will feature traditional Japanese performances, modern Japanese music, and martial arts. There’s a stage aimed at children and the Sakura Stage includes local groups.

“It’s very interactive where we teach people about kimono or even [let them] come up and learn how to play the big taiko drums,” Malott said of the Sakura Stage.

The culinary arts pavilion has a stage that will feature cooking demonstrations. There are cultural exhibits and vendors selling traditional and modern Japanese merchandise.

To enter the sake tasting pavilion, there’s an additional fee.

“You can sample five different kinds of sake and learn the difference in the various gradations of sake, the quality levels,” Malott said.

About half of the festival’s space is devoted to food vendors featuring Japanese, Tai, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese foods, but Malott said western food is readily available for people who aren’t into the Asian flavors.

The festival is Saturday, April 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the intersection of M Street and New Jersey Avenue Southeast. The entrance fee for adults is $10. Children 12 and under are free.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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